Depression is often confused with being only sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness, tearfulness, and emptiness. However, with children and teens depression has many faces. Children and adolescents who cause problems at home or school are often defiant to the rules, argumentative with parents and teachers, hostile towards siblings and peers, skipping classes, running away from home, engaging in risky behavior, and making poor decisions. As adults we tend to concentrate on fixing the “bad” behavior and end up making many negative statements and judgments, and giving ultimatums. But if we take the time to listen, often times we will find that there may be simply anger and sadness underneath all the “bad” behavior. We need to resist the urge to lecture or criticize. It’s easy to tell them to just stop it, but when we do they feel like we just don’t get it, and then we discredit ourselves. Depression can be very dangerous if untreated. So if you see these warning signs, now you can focus on taking positive steps to help them. Contact us so we can help you help them.
Are you struggling with speaking out in anger when it comes to your children? I want to help you stop this because responding in anger has painful consequences for your child. We all get angry at our children, but it is important to learn how to control the expression of anger. When you feel your anger building up please remove yourself from your child. You can go to your bedroom and take a time out for yourself. One great thing you can do is to make a list of acceptable ways to handle ager. This can help guide you when you need to calm down.
Remind yourself that you will not allow your child’s behavior to have that much power over you. I have a code word I will speak if I ever find myself getting upset with my child’s behavior. I will say “Evangelist” under my breath. That reminds me that this is a child that God has blessed me with. He is an anointed young little man, and God has created him with a plan and a purpose. I will take a break and go into my room if I feel that my anger is rising.
Once in my room I start to pray. The power of prayer is extraordinary. Every time I have taken this path I find that God gives me the strength and wisdom to handle that situation correctly. Always wait before disciplining. Never do it while angry. f you feel that your anger is hard to control please give us a call. We are here to help you and your family.
It is important to start having kids help out with chores. Here is a guideline to use for different age groups:
Ages 2 and 3
Assist in making their beds
Pick up playthings with your supervision
Take their dirty laundry to the laundry basket
Fill a pet’s water and food bowls (with supervision)
Help a parent clean up spills and dirt
Ages 4 and 5
Get dressed with minimal parental help
Make their bed with minimal parental help
Bring their things from the car to the house
Set the table with supervision
Clear the table with supervision
Help a parent prepare food
Help a parent carry in the lighter groceries
Match socks in the laundry
Answer the phone with parental assistance
Be responsible for a pet’s food and water bowl
Hang up towels in the bathroom
Clean floors with a dry mop
Ages 6 and 7
Make their bed every day
Choose the day’s outfit and get dressed
Write thank you notes with supervision
Be responsible for a pet’s food, water and exercise
Vacuum individual rooms
Wet mop individual rooms
Fold laundry with supervision
Put their laundry in their drawers and closets
Put away dishes from the dishwasher
Help prepare food with supervision
Empty indoor trash cans
Answer the phone with supervision
Ages 8 to 11
Take care of personal hygiene
Keep bedroom clean
Be responsible for homework
Be responsible for belongings
Write thank you notes for gifts
Wake up using an alarm clock
Wash the family car with supervision
Prepare a few easy meals on their own
Clean the bathroom with supervision
Learn to use the washer and dryer
Put all laundry away with supervision
Take the trash can to the curb for pick up
Test smoke alarms once a month with supervision
Screen phone calls using caller ID and answer when appropriate
Ages 12 and 13
Take care of personal hygiene, belongings and homework
Write invitations and thank you notes
Set their alarm clock
Maintain personal items, such as recharging batteries
Change bed sheets
Keep their rooms tidy and do a biannual deep cleaning
Change light bulbs
Change the vacuum bag
Dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms and do dishes
Mow the lawn with supervision
Baby sit (in most states)
Prepare an occasional family meal
Ages 14 and 15
Responsible for all personal chores for ages 12 and 13
Responsible for library card and books
Do assigned housework without prompting
Do yard work as needed
Prepare food — from making a grocery list and buying the items (with supervision) to serving a meal — occasionally
Wash windows with supervision
Ages 16 to 18
Responsible for all personal chores for ages 14 and 15
Responsible to earn spending money
Responsible for purchasing their own clothes
Responsible for maintaining any car they drive (e.g., gas, oil changes, tire pressure, etc.)
Retrieved from Focus on the Family
I work at a facility that encourages our clients to listen to music as a coping skill. We even have a group called Music Therapy where they listen to songs that inspire them to journal. However, is the music that my clients listen to productive or detrimental to their well-being?
Now a days, when I turn on the radio to whatever station (pop, rap, country, you name it) within my 40 minute drive to work, I hear at least ONE song referring to substance use. The latest (and most horrific in my opinion) song that I’ve heard is “Coco” by O.T. Genasis. At first I thought the singer was saying “I’m in love with the Po-po”, which made no sense to me at all. I truly did not understand what this singer was saying really until the song reached the refrain. Here is the refrain:
Bakin’ soda, I got bakin’ soda
Bakin’ soda, I got bakin’ soda
Whip it through the glass (bleep)
I’m blowin’ money fast (bleep)
I censored the refrain for professional reasons, but listening to the refrain disturbed me. He’s not in love with the police…. he’s in love with cocaine. How does a client like mine, who may be recovering from an addiction, benefit from this song? NADA! If anything, I see this song may encourage relapse.
This is not the first and most likely will not be the last controversial song on the radio. Back in April of last year, Tove Lo produced a song “Habits (Stay High)”. That song stayed in the Top 100 US Singles for 32 weeks! What did this song speak of? Of course using marijuana and promoted promiscuity to numb feelings. Yes our life experiences can be painful. Yes we can turn to drugs or alcohol to bandage the hurt. But, do we truly want the radio to promote this lifestyle?
I think back to when I was a teenager trying to discover my identity and ways to keep my sanity with crazy hormones. Of course, there were songs related to my teenage years referring to drugs, like “Because I Got High” by Afroman. But, I never paid attention to song lyrics, just the melody. So what’s the difference between the 2000’s and now? The lyrics are becoming more explicit, straight-forward and peer pressuring than ever. Some of them have a catchy melody, but if you truly listen to the lyrics are you enjoying the message?
As a non-parent, I’m concerned for those that do have future generations growing up listening to these lyrics. I challenge you to ask your children or teenagers what they perceive from these lyrics. Their answer might worry some of you. Take action and talk to your children or teenagers about the music they are listening to. Keeping open communication with your children will promote a bond of trust. With trust, your children may be less susceptible to substance use. Let’s return our society back to healing.
If you are a person that wants to be “nice” and “not cause problems”, but you suffer in silence and believe that nothing can be done to change the situation you need to read further. Learning how to be assertive can help you overcome fear, shyness, passivity, and even anger. Asserting yourself involves advocating for yourself in a positive, honest, and respectful way. Assertiveness means that you are communicating in a clear, direct, and honest way about your needs, opinions, and feelings. Being assertive will help you improve your relationships, relieve stress, make you more confident, and less resentful.
Here are ways to start being assertive: When you start using the below techniques it’s important to start small so that you do not overwhelm yourself.
- The best way to start using effective assertive language is to use “I” statements to express what you are thinking and feeling. So for an example, instead of saying, “You are mean to me!” you can say, “I feel hurt when you call me stupid.”
- Rehearse what you want to say and be clear in what you want. Those around you are not mind readers.
- Practice saying no.
- Express yourself in a calm manner. Take deep breaths if you need to.
- Don’t apologize or feel ashamed or guilty for expressing a need or want.
- Use confident body language and tone. Best way to do this is by practicing in front of your mirror.
Assertiveness takes time but be persistent with your efforts and you will see the pay off.
As a counselor for adolescents and their families I’ve come across a rise in teenage self-injury. To improve my knowledge of this wave of teenage self-injury I’ve read many books and articles on self-injury to help me as a counselor and help my clients reduce the self injury behaviors. Here is an article that I’ve run across many time by the New York Times, its very informative and helpful to counselors and parents of children and teens who self-injure.
“I feel relieved and less anxious after I cut. The emotional pain slowly slips away into the physical pain.”
“It’s a way to have control over my body because I can’t control anything else in my life.”
“It expresses emotional pain or feelings that I’m unable to put into words.”
“I usually feel like I have a black hole in the pit of my stomach. At least if I feel pain it’s better than nothing.”
These are some of the reasons young people have given for why they deliberately and repeatedly injure their own bodies, a disturbing and hard-to-treat phenomenon that experts say is increasing among adolescents, college students and young adults.
Experts urge parents, teachers, friends and doctors to be more alert to signs of this behavior and not accept without question often spurious explanations for injuries, like “I cut myself on the countertop,” “I fell down the stairs” or “My cat scratched me.”
The sooner the behavior is detected and treated, the experts maintain, the more quickly it is likely to end without leaving lasting physical scars.
There are no exact numbers for this largely hidden problem, but anonymous surveys among college students suggest that 17 percent of them have self-injured, and experts estimate that self-injury is practiced by 15 percent of the general adolescent population.
Experts say self-injury is often an emotional response, not a suicidal one, though suicide among self-injurers is a concern.
The Canadian Mental Health Association describes it this way: “Usually they are not trying to end all feeling; they are trying to feel better. They feel pain on the outside, not the inside.”
Janis Whitlock, a psychologist who has interviewed about 40 people with histories of self-injury and is participating in an eight-college study of it, says the Internet is spreading the word about self-injury, prompting many to try it who might not otherwise have known about it.
“There is a rising trend for teens to discuss cutting on the Internet and form cutting clubs at school,” the Canadian association has stated.
Celebrities, too, have contributed to its higher profile. Among those who have confessed to being self-injurers are the late Princess Diana,Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Richie, Richie Edwards, Courtney Love and the lead singer on the Garbage band album “Bleed Like Me.”
Common self-injuries include carving or cutting the skin, scratching, burning, ripping or pulling skin or hair, pinching, biting, swallowing sublethal doses of toxic substances, head banging, needle sticking and breaking bones. The usual targets are the arms, legs and torso, areas within easy reach and easily hidden by clothing.
Self-injury can become addictive. Experts theorize that it may be reinforced by the release in the brain of opioidlike endorphins that result in a natural high and emotional relief.
Dr. Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behavior in Adolescents and Young Adults, said in an interview that self-injury mainly seemed to function to “self-regulate feelings and help people cope with overwhelming negative emotions they have no other way to dispel.”
Self-injury makes some people feel part of a group. Teenagers who self-injure often report that there is no adult they could talk to who accepts them for who they are.
“A 13-year-old can go on the Internet and instantly find community and get hitched to this behavior,” Dr. Whitlock said. “When they don’t want to self-injure anymore, it means they have to leave a community.”
Self-injury can be manipulative, an effort to make others care or feel guilty or to drive them away. More often, though, it is secretive. Self-injurers may try to hide wounds under long pants and long sleeves even in hot weather, and may avoid activities like swimming.
Who Is Vulnerable?
Self-injury often starts in the emotional turmoil of the preteen and early teenage years and may persist well into adulthood.
Although female self-injurers are more likely to be seen by a professional, in-depth studies indicate that the behavior is practiced equally by young men and women. No racial or socioeconomic group has been found to be more vulnerable, although self-injury is slightly less common among Asians and Asian-Americans, Dr. Whitlock said.
Interviews with self-injurers have found background factors that may prompt and perpetuate the behavior. A history of childhood sexual, and especially emotional, abuse has been reported by half or more of self-injurers. Some seek relief from the resulting emotional pain. Others self-inflict pain to punish themselves for what they perceive as their role in inviting the abuse.
Low self-esteem is common among self-injurers. Childhood neglect, social isolation and unstable living conditions have also been cited as risk factors. In about 25 percent of self-injurers, there is a history ofeating disorders, as well as an overlap with risky drinking and unsafe sex.
The families of self-injurers commonly suppress unpleasant emotions. Children grow up not knowing how to express and deal with anger and sadness, instead turning emotional pain on themselves. Depression, for example, is often described as anger turned inward.
Although 60 percent of self-injurers have never had suicidal thoughts, self-injury can be a harbinger of suicidal behavior. It can also accidentally result in suicide.
“Those who self-injure should be evaluated for suicidal potential,” Dr. Whitlock said. There is some evidence that self-injury is more common among those with family histories of suicide. And some self-injurers suffer from chronic yet treatable emotional problems like depression,anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Self-injury can be set off by certain events like being rejected by someone important, feeling wronged or being blamed for something over which the person had no control.
Although there are no specific medications to treat self-injury, drugs that treat underlying emotional problems like depression and anxiety can help. Most effective in general is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy called dialectical behavior therapy. People learn skills that help them better tolerate stress, regulate their emotions and improve their relationships.
The therapy also helps them see themselves not as victims, but as powerful agents, Dr. Whitlock said.
In addition, self-injurers can learn more wholesome ways to relieve stress like practicing meditation or yoga, engaging in vigorousphysical activity or reaching out to a friend.
Some self-injurers have noted that they can sometimes avoid the behavior, Dr. Whitlock said, simply by doing something else for several minutes when the urge arises.